Zen Cart™ Site Security

The Zen Cart™ software is made available to you for use, additions, changes, modifications, etc. without charge, under the GNU General Public License.

While we do not charge for this software, donations are greatly appreciated each time you download a new version, to help cover the expenses of maintenance, upgrades, updates, the free support forum and the continued development of this software for your online e-commerce store.

Donations can be made at: The Zen Cart™ Team Page

We appreciate your support.
The Zen Cart™ Team

Zen Cart™ is derived from: Copyright 2003 osCommerce
This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY;
without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE
and is redistributable under the GNU General Public License

This software is OSI Certified Open Source Software.
OSI Certified is a certification mark of the Open Source Initiative.


The following is a list of several steps you can take to secure your Zen Cart™ site:

1. Delete the /zc_install folder

Once installation is complete, delete the /zc_install folder from the server.
Don't simply rename the folder, as this leaves you vulnerable if someone were to discover this renamed folder.

2. Rename your "/admin" folder

Renaming the "admin" folder makes it much harder for would-be hackers to get into your admin area.

(Before making the following changes, make sure to have a current backup of your files and your database.)

A- Open your admin/includes/configure.php, using a simple text editor like notepad.
Change all instances of /admin/ to your chosen new admin folder-name.

Change this section:

define('DIR_WS_ADMIN', '/admin/');
define('DIR_WS_CATALOG', '/');
define('DIR_WS_HTTPS_ADMIN', '/admin/');
define('DIR_WS_HTTPS_CATALOG', '/');

And this section:

define('DIR_FS_ADMIN', '/home/mystore.com/www/public/admin/');
define('DIR_FS_CATALOG', '/home/mystore.com/www/public/');

B- Find your Zen Cart /admin/ directory, using your FTP software or your webhost File Manager.
Rename the directory to match the settings you just made in your admin/includes/configure.php.

C - To login to your admin system you will now have to visit a new URL that matches the new name used in steps A and B above. For example instead of visiting http://www.example.com/admin/ visit http://www.example.com/NeW_NamE4u/.

D - You should also protect your admin area by using a .htaccess file similar to the one shown below, and placing it into /admin/includes. (This should already exist in Zen Cart versions 1.2.7 and greater.)

3. Set configure.php files read-only

It's important that you CHMOD (set permissions) on the two configure.php files as read-only.
Typically this means setting it to "644", or in some cases "444".

The configure.php files are located in:

Quite often setting permissions on a file to read only via FTP will not work. Even if the permission looks like it was set to read only, it really may not have been. You must verify the correct setting by entering the store and seeing if there is a warning message on the top of the screen. "Warning: I am able to write to the configuration file:..." In this case you will need to use the "File Manager" supplied with your webhosting account.

If you're using a Windows server, simply set the file as Read-Only for Everyone and especially the IUSR_xxxxx (Internet Guest Account) user if running IIS, or the System account or apache user if running Apache.

4. Delete any unused Admin accounts

Admin->Tools->Admin Settings
In your admin area, open the Tools menu, and choose Admin Settings
- Check for any unused admin accounts, and delete them. Especially the "Demo" account, if it exists.

5. Admin Password Security

It is wise to use complicated passwords so that a would-be hacker cannot easily guess them.

You can change your admin password in Admin->Tools->Admin Settings, and click on the "Reset Password" button, or click on the icon that looks like a recycle symbol.

We recommend that you use passwords that are at least 8 characters long.
Making them alpha-numeric (including letters, numbers, upper-and-lower-case, etc) helps too.
If you are going to use normal words it is a good idea to join together two normal words that don't normally go together.

Admin Access Protection

It is wise to observe caution while working in your admin area:

  • use only one browser tab to access your admin area
  • do NOT visit other sites when your browser has an active admin login session enabled even in another tab
  • always log out of your admin when not using it

6. Protect your "define pages" content in "html_includes"

After you have finished editing your define pages (Admin->Tools->Define Pages Editor), you should protect them:

A. Download a copy of them to your PC using your FTP software. They are located in the /includes/languages/english/html_includes area.

B. Make them CHMOD 644 or 444 (or “read-only” for Windows hosts). See notes above on CHMOD.
/includes/languages/english/html_includes – and all files/folders underneath
(note: on "some" hosts, you must use at least 645 or 555 in order for the contents to still display)

If you make them read-only, then a would-be hacker cannot edit them if they gain access to your system, unless they can get permissions to change the read-only status, which is more complicated.

NOTE: Of course, once you set them read-only, then you'll have to go and set them read-write before making additional changes using the define-pages editor.

7. Use .htaccess files to protect against unwanted snooping

In several folders, there are .htaccess files to prevent users from being able to browse through the files on your site unless they know exact filenames. Some also prevent access to "any" .PHP scripts, since it's expected that all PHP files in those folders will be accessed by other PHP files, and not by a browser directly. This is good for security.
If you delete these files, you run the risk of leaving yourself open to people snooping around.

There are also some semi-"blank" index.html files in several folders. These files are there to protect you in case your FTP software won't upload .htaccess files, or your server won't accept them. These only prevent directory browsing, and do not stop execution of .PHP files. It's a good "alternative", although using .htaccess files in ALL of these folders is the better choice, for servers that accept them.

Suggested content for .htaccess files in folders where there is an index.html file but NOT yet an .htaccess file would be something like the following (depends on your server configuration):

#.htaccess to prevent unauthorized file access files
   OPTIONS -Indexes -ExecCGI
   IndexIgnore */*
   ### This part says to deny access to EVERYTHING. Afterwards, you'll allow access to JUST the permitted items. See next FilesMatch section.
   <FilesMatch .*>
    Order Deny,Allow
    Deny from all
   ### NOTE: Add only appropriate PERMITTED filetypes to this list, depending on which folder you're protecting:
   <FilesMatch .*\.(js|css|jpg|gif|png|swf)>
    Order Deny,Allow
    Allow from all

In order for the above suggestions to work, your host must include either 'All' or all of these: 'Limit Options Indexes' parameters to the AllowOverride configuration in the server's apache/conf/httpd.conf file.
Some hosts don't like to let you use the OPTIONS directive, so you'll need to leave that line out or put a # in front of it.

If your webhost configuration doesn't allow you to create/use your own .htaccess files, sometimes they provide an interface in your hosting admin control panel where you can set the desired .htaccess settings.

It is recommended that you work with your host to configure these settings if this is the method they require. You need to choose -- and use -- the appropriate method for your server. As mentioned above, it's best to work with your web hosting company to select and implement the best method for your specific server. We can't tell you what to use for your specific server, but we offer these guidelines as a starting point.

Disable "Allow Guest To Tell A Friend" feature

You may wish to go to Admin->Configuration->Email Options->Allow Guest To Tell A Friend and set the option to 'false'. This will prevent non-logged-in customers from using your server to send unwanted email messages.

Protect your "images" and other folders

During initial installation, you are advised to set your images folder to read/write, so that you can use the Admin interface to upload product/category images without having to use FTP for each one. Similar recommendations are made to other files for various reasons.

However, leaving the images (or any other) folder in read/write mode means that hackers might be able to put malicious files in this (or other) folder(s) and thus create access points from which to attempt nasty exploits.

Thus, once your site is built and your images have been created/loaded, you should drop the security down from read/write to read. ie: change from CHMOD 777 down to 644 for files, and to 755 for folders.

File/Folder permissions settings

On Linux/Unix hosts, generally, permission-setting recommendations for basic security are:

  • folders/directories: 755
  • files: 644

On Windows hosts, setting files read-only is usually sufficient. Should double-check that the Internet Guest Account has limited (read-only) access.

Folder Purposes

The folders for which installation suggests read-write access for setup are these. If your site supports .htaccess protection, then you should use it for these folders. (The .htaccess files included with v1.3.9 and newer should already cover the basics.)

  • /cache
    This is used to cache session and database information. The BEST security protection for this is to move it to a folder "above" the webroot (public_html or htdocs or www) area, so that it's not accessible via a browser. (Requires changes to DIR_FS_SQL_CACHE setting in configure.php files as well as Admin > Configuration > Sessions > Session Directory.)
  • /images
    See other suggestions earlier.
  • /includes/languages/english/html_includes
    See other suggestions earlier.
  • /media
    This is only suggested read-write for the sake of being able to upload music-product media files via the admin. Could be done by FTP as an alternative.
  • /pub
    This is used on Linux/Unix hosts to have downloadable products made available to customers via a secure delivery method which doesn't disclose the 'real' location of files/data on your server (so that people can't share a URL and have their friends steal downloads from your site)
  • /admin/backups
    This is used by automated backup routines to store database backups. Optional.
  • /admin/images/graphs
    This is used by the Admin > Tools > Banner Manager for updating/displaying bar graphs related to banner usage. If not writable, feature is ignored.

Remove the print URL from your browser's headers

To stop the browser from printing a URL on the invoice or any other document on the web, follow these steps:

For Internet Explorer:
o Click on File then Page Setup
o At page setup, remove this two character combination: "&u" from the header or footer text box.

For Firefox:
o Click on File then Page Setup
On page setup window click on the tab "Margins & Header/Footer". In the "Header & Footer" section set all of the drop downs to --blank--. (Or at least remove all references to "Title" and "URL".)

Things to Check Up on Regularly

  1. Be sure you've done all the steps listed in this document
  2. Keep good backups of your website files and database
  3. Check your server's errorlog regularly for odd or suspicious activity
    • look for any links that went to a page that isn't in your site
    • look for links that have http after the index.php
  4. Check your website files regularly to be sure nothing's been added or altered
  5. Ask your webhost what they have done to be sure the server you're on is safe and secure so that outsiders cannot do any harm, and so that other websites on your server cannot be used to get to your site and cause any harm (in case they have security holes in them)
  6. If your business warrants, or you still want additional assurance (esp if running forum software on your site, or other scripts outside of Zen Cart), hire a security consultant to check your site regularly and give you peace of mind in exchange for a few dollars

Copyright 2009 Zen Cart